Tag Archives: publish

Just how good is the first line of your manuscript?

I recently had the opportunity to chat with a submissions editor (you never know who you’ll run into at a coffee shop) and we had a discussion about first lines of a book, and how important they are.

I knew already how important it was to hook a reader quickly, but Mike told me that he actually knows by reading the FIRST LINE if he is going t request a full or not when he reads through submissions.

Wow.

Now Available from Jennifer M. EatonThat’s not much time to make a first impression, is it?

That’s why I jumped at the chance to post ONLY MY FIRST LINE for “The First Day of the New Tomorrow” over at The Ladies Cave website today.

http://theladiescave.blogspot.ca/

Hop on over.  This line obviously grabbed my editor’s attention.  Tell me what you think!

But while you still here…

What’s your first line?

Do you think it has the goods to grab a reader/editor in once sentence?

JenniFer_EatonF

Stop feeling! And don’t “think” either while you are at it — Rule #24 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever

Writing_A_Great_Novel

I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #24

24: Cut out filtering devices, wherever possible. ‘He felt’, ‘he thought’, ‘he observed’ are all filters. They distance the reader from the character.

Sometimes I consider typing this out and saving it somewhere so I can paste it into manuscripts that I beta read.  This is one I see time and time again.  This is part of show don’t tell, and it is the hardest for new and some seasoned authors to understand… but it is the difference between a good novel, and a great one.

Which sentence packs more punch?

He felt sad.

Or

Tears streamed down his cheeks.

 

He saw the train go by.

Or

The wind stung his cheek as the engine throttled along the tracks.

It’s not a hard choice to pick the better sentence, is it?

Search for felt, saw, looked, was, thought… and words like that… and replace them with active sentences.  The result will astound you.

Jennifer___Eaton

Writers: Don’t worry about the Statistics

I came across this article that really hit home.

Why statistics discourage prospective writers

We all hear the statistics.  1 in 500… 1 in 5000… 100,000 novels are being queried right now.  They are all scary.  Many people are daunted by this.

This article points out something that I hadn’t thought of.  Think it over.  All of us have at least one friend who is querying thinking there novel is great, and they are getting rejected.  I talked to someone the other day doing this and the only other person whose read her novel is HER HUSBAND.  Really?  What are you thinking?

Now, if all of you count up their one or two friends who refuse to get beta readers, and are SURE they are geniuses without getting a lick of feedback… are you counting them up? Are you getting a mental picture?  Get my meaning?

This is what I am getting at.  So what if you and 499 other people query at the same time.  If 300 of these are sub-standard, your chances just increased, didn’t they?

If 50 of the remaining 100 had bad queries, or boring plots, your chances just increased, didn’t they?

What you have to ask is this… Are you destined for the slush pile, or are you one of then ten that the agent or publisher is actually going to read?

Make your choice now, and work hard to get yourself out of the slush pile, and onto that agent’s desk.

When to say “Enough is enough” – Coming to the end of your query rope

As many of you know, I have been in what I’ve called “Query Hell” for over a month now.   One month and eleven days, to be exact.

It hit me a few days ago.  I finished the first draft of Fire in the Woods in 40 writing days. It was 40,000 words at the time. (After three months of editing and beta reading, it is nearly 68,000 words)

That means that it took me the same amount of time to write 40,000 words as it took me to write this 249-word query (mainly, the 155-word blurb inside it)

How crazy is that?

A few days ago, I said. “Enough”.

This is my problem — I know I am not good at queries, so I had requested a lot of help.  Seriously – I think people were cringing. (With smiles on their faces, I hoped)

But the problem was… I was getting SO MUCH feedback, with contradicting opinions, that I was getting NOWHERE.

A few weeks ago, I complained about this process on Facebook, and an acquisitions editor at a small publishing house commented “Just write the back cover copy of the book.  That’s all we want to see”

Well, yeah, I know that.  That’s what I was trying to write… but people kept saying I needed more.  A little more voice here, a little more danger there.  It was getting TOO LONG.

A few days ago I sat down, cleared my head… thought about all the suggestions people have made… and I just wrote the dern thing.

Funny, the best parts of all their suggestions just flew out of my fingers… and I sat there and stared at it.

Wow.

I mean, I think Wow… but I’d thought Wow before… so I (being the glutton for punishment that I am) send it to three people (leaving out the person who always found flaws)

I got two enthusiastic thumbs up, and a slight modification.

I made the modification (which fixed something I was uncomfortable with anyway) and asked for one last check – including the most critical person this time. (Who I love by the way-if you are reading this)

Triple thumbs up.  And all around “I’d ask for this in a heartbeat”

**Whew**

You can’t believe the sigh of relief.  Part of me feels like I have wasted a month and a half.  I could be nearly done my new novel, but part of me realizes I have made an important first step to getting where I want to go.

The truth is, Fire in the Woods is too important to me to be flippant with the query.  I’m going to be reaching higher than I have before.  I need to take my bumps and bruises just like anyone else.

So… if you are writing your query, or your synopsis… and feeling the pain… I sympathize.  But believe that you can get to the finish line.  Believe me, if I can write a decent query, anyone can.

When you are lucky enough to have choices. Stuff to thing about

When searching for a publisher, many authors target who they want, but settle for who will publish them.  Right?  This week, I found myself in the thrilling and cushy position of having a choice after being offered multiple contracts for Paper Wishes.

What’s Paper Wishes?  Ha!  I’m glad you asked!  Paper Wishes is the re-envisioning of Jack and Jill Volume One.

As most of you know, Still Moments Publishing was purchased by another publishing house on March 15, and Jack and Jill was not one of the titles automatically shifted under their fold.

This was not a huge surprise to me, as Jack and Jill was not traditional Romance.  The book really was a better fit for Christian Romance, so the minute I got my rights back, I began querying Christian Publishers.

Now – should this happen to anyone else, be prepared because the greater percentage of publishers out there (at least in Christian) DO NOT WANT previously published work.  This surprised me at first.  I had the nicest discussion with a really big house that liked my work, but had to decline because it had been published too recently.

But they were really a long shot anyway… and not so much on my radar.  I was mainly focused in on one publisher that I contacted the day Still Moments made the announcement.  I spoke with this publisher, explained my predicament, and we chatted about the publishing business in general for a while before I had even sent them my work.  We were very much on the same page, so I bit my nails as I sent them my submission, and to a few other houses as well.

Less than a week later, I had two contract offers, and a third arrived last night. I have the luxury of matching up what each publisher has to offer, and also weighing the changes each publisher wants. (Yes, there will be changes)

Requested Changes:

1.        Two of them want the cursing removed – and for anyone who has read my work, I really don’t curse.  But what I WILL have to remove is dernit, darn, gosh, Hell, heck … anything even remotely looking like an explicative.

2.       I will need to tone down the make-out scene to bring it more within the boundaries of Christian novels.

3.       One of the publishers wants me to change it from First Person to Third Person.

So I am weighing the required changes alongside royalties, distribution, foreign rights, cover design, print rights and overall package offered.

It’s wonderful place to be, and I hope to be making an announcement shortly.

JenniFer_EatonF

Write a Story With Me #32 – Janelle’s Choice with Shannon Christensen

Last week the baby finally arrived, but it looks like Mommy is in big trouble!  Will she be okay?  Let’s find out!

Take it away Shannon!

32- Shannon Christensen

Janelle hesitated.

If she followed Morana’s instructions to get help, Natalia might live and the boy might grow up healthy, wealthy, and destructive. This baby could destroy them all – fairies and humans, regardless of Janelle’s help.

She considered this. The boy could turn out to be like Marci, and could be helpful to Janelle’s people. Then again, maybe not. If he were more like Bethany, then all the risks and sacrifices made by Marci, by Sian, by Janosc, by herself and so many others would be futile.

She did not have to help. She should not have helped earlier by bringing Morana. Certainly, the humans would not have helped a fairy mother. She could simply leave Natalia and the boy in Morana’s care and let luck or fate have her way.

Natalia moaned again and Morana pleaded.

Janelle watched.
As a mother, Janelle sympathized with the compulsion to care for an infant. As Marci’s friend, Janelle sympathized with the potential loss of a family member. As the new queen of the fairies, however, she understood that her own feelings were nothing compared to her peoples’ needs. She had accepted this when she ate the leaf. She had not expected to have to act so quickly on this new prioritization.

Janelle sighed. She would do what was best for the many, and not only the few.

“No.”

“But, you must!”

“No. I must not.” Janelle turned and flew away from the house for the last time.

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Part One – Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Two – J. Keller Ford

Part Three – Susan Roebuck

Part Four – Elin Gregory

Part Five – Eileen Snyder

Part Six – Mikaela Wire

Part Seven — Vanessa Chapman

Part Eight — Ravena Guron

Part Nine – Vikki Thompson

Part Ten — Susan Rocan mywithershins

Part Eleven — Kate Johnston  AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twelve — Julie Catherine

Part Thirteen — Kai Damian

Part Fourteen — Richard Leonard

Part Fifteen — Sharon Manship

Part Sixteen – Shannon Blue Christensen

Part Seventeen — Bryn Jones

Part Eighteen — Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Nineteen — Shannon Burton

Part Twenty — J.Keller Ford

Part Twenty-One — Susan Roebuck

Part Twenty-Two — Elin Gregory

Part Twenty-Three — Aparnauteur

Part Twenty-Four — Vanessa Chapman

Part Twenty-Five — Ravena Guron

Part Twenty Six — Susan Rocan

Part Twenty Seven — Kate Johnson AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twenty Eight – Julie Catherine

Part Twenty Nine — Kai Damian

Part Thirty — Richard Leonard

Part Thirty-One — Sharon Manship

Part Thirty-Two — Shannon Christensen

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Danielle Ackley McPhail — TAG!  You are “It”

Give that Publisher What They Want DERNIT: The Basics #2 – Identifiers

We interrupt this post to announce that USA Today is featuring my anthology “For the Love of Christmas” in a blurb in their “Life” Section.  Can I hear an “Oh Yeah!” Click here to see it!

Eh-hem — now back to our regularly scheduled program.

I am uber stoker to be able to dig into the wild and crazy brain of someone who is out there doing this crazy publishing stuff professionally. When you read this, you’re gonna want to slap yourself silly, because this is hearing it right from someone who does this for a living. For the next few weeks, we will be delving into the slush pile with Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Here we go…

The Writer’s Toolbox: Give ’Em What They Want! Why Formatting Is Important By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

(Originally published in Allegory Magazine ©2011)

—————————————————————–

So far, we’ve discussed that nothing will help your manuscript if the editor in question is not even willing to read it.

Last week, we discussed remembering your contact information.

This week, we’re going to dig through the second basics to get your foot in the door… How to identify yourself, and your manuscript.

The Basics #2

Identifiers. To simplify I’m grouping several things under this heading, so bear with me.

Title – you would be amazed how many people neglect to put titles on their manuscripts (coincidentally enough, more than a few of them are the ones who forgot contact information as well).

Name – your pen name or your legal name, whichever one you write under. Editors like to know whose work they are reading and what should appear on a published work (should you be fortunate enough to make a sale.) The problem is that if the contact information is missing and there is no title or author name, the publisher has absolutely no way of cross-referencing to try and determine what story goes with which submission email (assuming they will even try).

Page Numbers – now you might be thinking “But manuscripts are electronic, how can the pages get out of order?” Well first, you can’t assume that whoever receives the manuscript won’t prefer to review a hardcopy. Second, even if they are reviewing something electronically it is easier for them to make notes or track back if there are page numbers to reference.

Running Heads – This is the space at the top of the page (starting with page 2) where you put the story/book title, the page number, and your legal last name. This is so no pages go missing and the editor knows what they are reading.

Author Bio – Optional, but a good thing to include, particularly if you have a few sales under your belt, but only if they are professional sales of note, not a piece of flash fiction you sold to a fanzine. What this tells the editor is that you are already established.

Besides the more practical reasons for not omitting any of the above information, consider that it is just plain sloppy and unprofessional. This isn’t a matter of wanting to impress the editor, it is showing them that you are not an amateur without a clue. Professionalism will do much to smooth over any other short fallings you have, in the editor’s eye.

Next week we’ll talk about FORMAT

Be there or be square, or, ummm… rejected?

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of a single-author collection of science fiction stories called A Legacy of Stars, the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections, including Rum and Runestones, Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, By Other Means, No Man’s Land, Space Pirates, Space Horrors, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and Mermaid 13.

She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DAckley-McPhail). To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com, http://www.literaryhandyman.com, or www.badassfaeries.com.

Website and/or blog www.sidhenadaire.com, http://lit_handyman.livejournal.com, http://damcphail.livejournal.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/DMcPhail

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/danielle.ackleymcphail

Amazon author page   http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-Ackley-McPhail/e/B002GZVZPQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1331314265&sr=8-1

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/989939.Danielle_Ackley_McPhail

http://www.badassfaeries.com/

http://www.sidhenadaire.com/

Related articles

Oh my gosh, I am such a wuss. I don’t think I can do this

Have you ever written something, thought it was great, but had second thoughts?  Ugh.  I am soooo there right now.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m working on a Paranormal called Une Variante.  I am a Fantasy writer at heart, but I like to stretch myself.  My first publication (Last Winter Red) is a Dystopian, and my second and third publications are contemporary “Sweet” Romances.

So why the second thoughts about Une Variante?  Well, the problem is that there is a heat rating.  It’s not kinky or anything, but there is definitely and “open door” to the bedroom.

Having always “faded to black” in the past, I am understandably nervous about this.  I have two people lined up to do a full beta on Une Variante as soon as it is complete. I’ve asked them because one looks for open door romances for her recreational reading, and the second is a writer of open door (and far worse kinkier stuff).

That aside….. Today, I sent the first ten pages to my local critique group.  You know what I did?

**blush**

I CENSORED MYSELF. [Smacks head on desk]

What am I doing?  Ugh.  I just couldn’t send it out in its “True glory”.

Now, part of the problem is that the word count would have dropped them right in the middle of “the scene”.  I didn’t want my critique session to be just “about that”, and I was afraid it would deter from what I really wanted … which was a critique of the beginning.

I considered asking if anyone would find it offensive, and just send “the scene” to people who wanted to read it… but I wussed about that too.

I gotta admit that I also didn’t want to look into the eyes of people after them just having read “that”.  Ugh… I am such a wuss.

Part of me is hoping that the Romance Reader and Erotica Writer tell me that the heat scene stinks, because that would give me an excuse to fade it to black.

[smacking myself again]

Have you ever had second thoughts about something you’ve written?

Give that stinking publisher what they want, DERNIT! The Basics #1 – Contact Information

I am uber stoker to be able to dig into the wild and crazy brain of someone who is out there doing this crazy publishing stuff professionally. When you read this, you’re gonna want to slap yourself silly, because this is hearing it right from someone who does this for a living. For the next few weeks, we will be delving into the slush pile with Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Here we go…

The Writer’s Toolbox: Give ’Em What They Want! Why Formatting Is Important By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

(Originally published in Allegory Magazine ©2011)

—————————————————————–

Last week, we discussed that nothing will help your manuscript if the editor in question is not even willing to read it.

This week, we’re going to dig through “the basics” to get your foot in the door, even if you don’t have their requirements right in front of you.

The Basics #1

Contact information. No matter who you are sending your work to or how many times you have sent them work before, you always—let me repeat that—ALWAYS include your full contact information in the upper left hand of the page. (The editor could be your brother, and you should still follow this rule, if nothing else but because it is common courtesy and shows you respect the relationship between hopeful author and potential publisher.)

If you aren’t sure what is considered full contact information, here it goes: legal name, mailing address, email address, and optionally, phone number. I can’t tell you how many times I have received manuscripts without this information. Usually from an author I’ve worked with before, but not always. See, we fall into a trap of informality thanks to the internet. With so many manuscripts being submitted electronically we don’t always consider that the email might become disassociated with the manuscript file, thus leaving the publisher no way to contact the author. Bad enough when what is forthcoming is a rejection. An absolute tragedy when they want to send you an acceptance. Face it…they have to know where to send the contract…or the check!

Next week we’ll talk about the basics #2:  IDENTIFIERS

Be there or be square, or, ummm… rejected?

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of a single-author collection of science fiction stories called A Legacy of Stars, the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections, including Rum and Runestones, Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, By Other Means, No Man’s Land, Space Pirates, Space Horrors, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and Mermaid 13.

She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DAckley-McPhail). To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com, http://www.literaryhandyman.com, or www.badassfaeries.com.

Website and/or blog www.sidhenadaire.com, http://lit_handyman.livejournal.com, http://damcphail.livejournal.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/DMcPhail

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/danielle.ackleymcphail

Amazon author page   http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-Ackley-McPhail/e/B002GZVZPQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1331314265&sr=8-1

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/989939.Danielle_Ackley_McPhail

http://www.badassfaeries.com/

http://www.sidhenadaire.com/

Big Publishing House, Small Publishing House… Red Fish, Blue Fish. What the Heck do you do?????

Help me think through this, ‘cause it’s driving me nuts. I’m finishing up my novel, Fire in the Woods. I felt pretty cozy about it going in to the beta process. Now, rounding to home plate, I’m really excited.

I’m excited because, as authors, we always think what we’ve written is great. The Beta Process is usually a slap in the face as reality sets in. For me, the slap was not so hard. Yes, it needed tweaking, but every single beta reader is just as excited about this novel as I am. Wow… it’s a pretty great place to be. (Ten beta-readers, in case you were wondering)

So now I am sitting here with a novel that I am reasonably sure is good enough for a big publishing house. No brainer, right? Send it on out!

This is where I hit a snag. Am I a patient person, or an impatient person?

The truth is, that the big houses that I am interested in… Baen, Daw, Tor, Random House, Entangled (a little smaller) are now — are you ready for this -

ACCEPTING UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS.

Wowzers! No need to take a year to find an agent, and then wait another year to get your stuff read. (If you can get by without an agent-there are pros and cons to this)

Anyway, the problem is that many of these houses do not accept simultaneous submissions. That means they expect you to send your manuscript to them… and only them. Now, this would not be a problem, but all of them, in their submission requirements, give themselves a HUGE timeframe to review novels. I understand that they get a lot of submissions, but you want me to take a year before I even hear back from you? And then if you decide to pass, I’ll need to wait another year to hear back from the next one?

My goal is to have Fire in the Woods traditionally published in printed copy format. I want the perks of professional editing and layout and cover design (etc) However, there are plenty of small houses out there who will read your query in a day, and read your manuscript in a month or so.

So, what, I wonder… other than prestige… would I direct myself to a big house when I have the possibility of getting my novel in the hands of readers in a year, as opposed to two to three years or more?

Hmmm. I think typing this just made things more clear to me.

Anyway… what are your thoughts?

(Self-publishing is not of interest at this time. I don’t have the time or money to do it right)